Feds offer a pittance to 5 states for debris disposal

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The National Oceanic and Atmostpheric Administration announced this week that 5 states will each receive up to $50,000 USD in grants through its marine debris program, to help them dispose of debris from the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.

According to the website GlassDoor.com, that is substantially less than the agency pays its Program Analysts (Average reported salary over $100,000)  and Physical Scientists (Average reported salary over $80,000).

The agency announced that Oregon, Alaska, Washington, California and Hawaii will each receive up to $50,000 toward debris removal from its marine debris program. In Oregon, more than $50,000 has already been spent to dispose of a dock that had washed up on shore, and the state is seeking more federal aid, saying the dock alone will cost nearly 100,000 dollars to dispose of.

The funds come after Washington Governor Chris Gregoire sent a letter asking for money to help the state cover its costs, and the money could be made available as early as the end of July.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, quickly deemed the amount “woefully inadequate.” He said the tsunami created a “slow-motion environmental disaster that will unfold over several years.”

“I think it’s rediculous, I think the amount of money to do the work, not only to clean up what’s starting to occur and end up on our shores, but also to start a program of prevention and planning, $50,000 is a joke,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska).

Begich had requested at least $45 million.  “There’s three billion pounds of debris, mostly plastic, which will flood into our inter-tidal ecosystems, and the leading edge of this tide is already here,” Begich said.

NOAA said the debris is dispersed in an area of the North Pacific Ocean about three times the size of the contiguous United States.

Retired Oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer has been keeping an eye on debris that’s washed up.  “I’d say we’ve seen a tenth of the debris we’re going to see this winter,” he explained.

Many believe the actual cleanup effort will likely take hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars, and funding will likely remain a problem, as more tsunami debris is expected to reach the US coast over the next several years.

Source: NBC 2 KTUU

Source: NOAA

Source: Seward City News

Source: NHK

Source: The Huffington Post

Source: NWCN

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